Jury out in trial of bank executives

The jury in the trial of four former bankers accused of conspiracy to defraud in 2008 has begun its deliberations.

Four former executives from Anglo Irish Bank and Irish Life & Permanent (ILP) are alleged to have conspired to mislead investors about the true health of Anglo.

On day 75 of what is now the longest running trial in the State’s legal history, Judge Martin Nolan outlined the legal issues for the jury to consider in its deliberations.

The jury consisted of 13 jurors after 15 were sworn in last January to allow for any fall off during the lengthy trial.

After the judge’s charge, the jurors took part in a lottery where the final name pulled out of a tin was told he had to be excluded from deliberations.

Judge Nolan told this man that he was very sorry for him if he wanted to serve but that the law was that only 12 jurors could take part in deliberations. He said he wanted to sincerely thank him and that he was most impressed by the attentiveness of all the jurors during the trial.

“It’s cruel for you that this new system was brought in for long trials. You’re free to go now and you must go now,” he said.

Peter Fitzpatrick, aged 63, of Convent Lane, Portmarnock, Dublin; Denis Casey, aged 56, from Raheny, Dublin; John Bowe, aged 52, from Glasnevin, Dublin; and Willie McAteer, aged 65, of Greenrath, Tipperary Town, Co Tipperary have all pleaded not guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to conspiring together and with others to mislead investors by setting up a €7.2bn circular transaction scheme between March 1 and September 30, 2008, to bolster Anglo’s balance sheet.

The prosecution case is that the four men were involved in setting up a circular scheme of €1bn transactions where Anglo lent money to ILP and ILP sent the money back, via their assurance firm Irish Life Assurance, to Anglo.

The scheme was designed so that the deposits came from the assurance company and would be treated as customer deposits, which are considered a better measure of a bank’s strength than inter-bank loans.

The €7.2bn deposit was later accounted for in Anglo’s preliminary results on December 3, 2008, as part of Anglo’s customer deposits figure.

The prosecution say that the entire objective of the scheme was to mislead the public reading Anglo’s accounts by artificially inflating the customer deposits number from €44bn to €51bn, a difference of 16%.

In his charge, Judge Nolan told the jurors: “Before you can convict these four men of anything you must be satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that the scheme and the way it was accounted for accounted for... is a dishonest scheme.”

He told them that if they cannot be satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that this was a dishonest scheme they have to acquit all four.

He said that, once satisfied that the scheme was dishonest, they must then be satisfied that the four defendants either authorised or were involved in the execution of the scheme and, at the time, they intended that the €7.2bn would be accounted in Anglo’s accounts with no explanatory note.

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